Blog & Resources

17 and counting ...

While campaigning in one of the districts in Region 7, a past district governor commented and then asked, “I like your tie. How many countries have you actually visited?”

I replied, “Thank you.” But his question caught me off guard as I hadn’t paused to identify the country of origin for the flags woven into the material. Not to be stymied I replied, “I don’t actually know. But I’ll get back to you ASAP with the answer.”

So what’s the bottom line?

Seventeen and counting.

I have no idea how many new countries I’ll be able to visit should our members elect me to serve as an International Director. But don’t be surprised when your club is called and you hear, “I’m traveling and found your club meets tomorrow. Is there a role I might play in your meeting? Could you make a little time for me to speak as a guest? Or perhaps you’ll at least call on me during Table Topics.”

I’m curious … How many countries have you visited? What are some of your favorite stories as a Traveling Toastmaster? Please, comment here or post your stories to social media. We are truly a global organization and we’ve oh-so-much to share.

Cultural Fusion

What I like about being a member of Toastmasters is that it’s an opportunity to learn about oh-so-many cultures. If you travel — for business or pleasure — you can visit a club and participate as a guest in the Table Topics portion of just about any meeting. There’s a good chance you’ll be asked to comment on what you thought about your visit. And if you’ve planned ahead — coordinating with the Vice President of Education — you may even get a chance to become a guest or featured speaker.

Q: What do you get when you mix an adventurous Toastmasters from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with a British-inspired menu prepared by a chef from Silicon Valley with a double-decker Polish bus? A: Lunch and so  much more.

Q: What do you get when you mix an adventurous Toastmasters from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with a British-inspired menu prepared by a chef from Silicon Valley with a double-decker Polish bus? A: Lunch and so much more.

The United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey, … , the list goes on. These are a few of the countries I’ve had the pleasure to live in or visit. Additionally, I’ve met oh-so-many people from other parts of the world while attending several international conventions as a Toastmaster.

Please share your stories of cultural fusion here. And if you’ve time, please suggest how you think members of the board of directors should address policy-making for a truly global organization.

#BeBrave #BeBold #BlazeYourTrail

PS: The above photo was taken during a reconnaissance for the annual “wine safari” held by members of the Traveling TasteMasters Toastmasters club. This advanced club meets monthly at restaurants, pubs, bistros, and wineries to practice communications and leadership skills and enjoy the fellowship of other adventurous souls. Please share your stories of equally adventurous clubs and fun-filled venues.

Q: What's more powerful than Dragon's Breath? A: Toastmasters.

Learned all about breaching barriers in the Army, but never have I seen the power of dragon’s breath! Fire that destroys stone?! Hmmm, we need more STEM instruction in our schools, yes?

Reportedly, our founder Ralph C. Smedley once said that joining Toastmasters was like enrolling into a college course for all that members learn from their fellow members. How might we improve the educational experience of today’s youth? How might we enhance the general knowledge of our members and by extension the know how of our communities?

Hosting a Speechcraft and/or launching a Youth Leadership Program directly extend the network of potential members and future clubs. I think this is an outstanding outcome which the Pathways program has brought to all who aspire to become a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM).

What other strategic partnerships and promotional opportunities do you think our board of International Directors should consider and TI WHQs should investigate?

Please post a comment if you’ve ideas on how to have these ideas “catch fire.”

#BlazeYourTrail

DragonsBreath.jpg

Follow Me!

I too learned a few lessons while at the U.S. Army Infantry School. I learned that a leader …

  • is mission focused

  • takes care of the men and women who are assigned to them

  • that RANGERS lead the way, and

  • that a paratrooper will go “all the way and then some.”

But perhaps former Secretary of State Colin Powell said it best.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocSw1m30UBI

The essence of leadership is found in the trust that followers put in their leaders.

I hope that I’ve earned your trust. I hope that you’ll follow me, if only out of curiosity.

In Denver, I need your vote. I promise years of selfless service to you and our fellow members.

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#MyWhy

As one of the ILC-nominated Candidates for International Director, I’ve been visiting districts within Region 7 during this winter’s club officer training season. And because club officer training is about — well, club officer training — I’ve focused primarily on presenting a leadership elective entitled: “Discover Your Genius.” This workshop has been well received and many attendees have actually thanked me for visiting them and/or they’ve ordered a copy of my book upon which this workshop is based. You see, I believe there’s a bit of genius in us all. But that’s a topic for another time. I digress …

Inevitably, there’s always one person who corners me during a break or at the coffee bar to ask, “So why do you want to serve as an international director?” Here’s my official answer …

“Several years ago after surviving a heart attack and successfully completing cardiac rehabilitation, I decided to re-invent myself. I went back to school, became a professional certified coach, and resolved that for the remaining days I have on this earth I would do my best to help others become their very best. If we aspire to truly empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders, then I believe my personal mission aligns quite nicely with the Toastmasters International mission.”

Yes, that’s a bit long-winded. Sorry, I’m a DTM (Don’t Time Me). Here’s the short answer …

“I want to serve. I want to help others become their very best. I believe my life’s mission is aligned with the mission of Toastmasters International.”

So what’s your why? I challenge you to share your story with the world and help inspire others!

Toastmasters International wants to hear your story. It could motivate others to join the path to maximizing their potential. There’s a #MyWhy-campaign that’s on-going and detailed instructions on the TI-website on how to contribute to this campaign. Everyone’s story is unique. Are you ready to motivate the next wave of Toastmasters?

I am.

Join me on the path to ToastMASTERY! … And, “Yes, I need your vote at the convention in Denver.”

To lead is to serve and to serve is to lead. That’s my WHY.

To lead is to serve and to serve is to lead. That’s my WHY.

PS: For all those who read this post and subscribe to this blog, I’ll send to you a code that allows you to download — for FREE — a copy of my e-book, Facilitation Genius: Illuminating Brilliance in Your Organization.

Note: You must supply your e-mail address for me to send to you the “key” that unlocks this gift.

Go Boldly ...

Q: What do Alexander the Great, Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert, and Dr. Ralph C. Smedley have in common?

A: Each of these men in their own distinct way boldly went out into the world to conquer ignorance.

Alexander spread Greek culture and built libraries in many of the lands he conquered. Robert crafted a set of rules that many organizations to this day refer to when keeping their meetings in order. And Smedley built an organization one club at a time that today spans the globe and assists many with improving their listening, thinking, and speaking skills.

Please excuse me as I digress a moment to give credit to Golden Gavel Award winner Tony Buzan for his connecting Alexander with Smedley. [NOTE: The champion of Mind Mapping shared this idea with me just a few years ago while we were dining in Washington, DC, at the Toastmasters International Convention (2016). But that’s a speech topic for another time.]

The connection between Robert and Smedley should be easier to make as a copy of The Great Peacemaker can be purchased from the ‘company store’ managed by Toastmasters International. See Item B57 when shopping at the TI store.

So how will you go into today’s ever-changing world? What are you doing to conquer ignorance? Will you go boldly and attack your challenges armed with improved communication and leadership skills developed in Toastmasters? I hope so. Please comment if this post was at all compelling.

Three men who boldly went on — each in their own distinct way — to conquer ignorance.

Three men who boldly went on — each in their own distinct way — to conquer ignorance.

Think Globally, Coach and Lead Locally

Once upon a time there was a bright, enthusiastic, and adventurous young lady who left England to work in the African jungle observing chimpanzees. It took months of patient waiting, observing, plus a few choice bananas to build trust between this young observer and the alpha-chimp. But what followed changed the way scientist viewed this species and others. 

Today, I've the honor to be working with the senior leadership team of the Jane Goodall Institute. If you've visited their website, you might have read that "She blazed a trail. The next steps are up to us."

What skills are need to serve as an executive coach and/or group facilitator for organizations like JGI? What tools do you use to communicate across time zones and continents? How do you build rapport and earn the trust of those from another culture?  

For me, learning about Emotional Intelligence and cross-cultural sensitivities has been a "mind-blowing" experience. Okay, perhaps not mind-blowing but at least mind-bending or expanding. Connecting with others across the globe has been helped with tools such as this Time Zone Converter. And practicing my leadership and communication skills via participating in Toastmasters International has helped too. 

Sculpture of a young, enthusiast, bright observer, Jane Goodall, with a young, enthusiast, bright chimp.

Sculpture of a young, enthusiast, bright observer, Jane Goodall, with a young, enthusiast, bright chimp.

What constitutes international business experience?

Q: What constitutes international business experience? Does supporting a program such as the JSF qualify?

A: I think some would say "yes."

... While serving as the director of an innovation center, I can point to many opportunities to apply my Toastmaster’s skills working with representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

The F35 or JSF is a multi-national program with international reach.

The F35 or JSF is a multi-national program with international reach.

Bully! ... Beware the hyphenated-Toastmaster.

Teddy Roosevelt was considered by many to have popularized the phrase "bully pulpit," this President spoke out on many issues and was considered one of the more progressive leaders in his day.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/theodore-roosevelt/

It's Presidents' Day in the United States. And regardless your place or origin or your citizenship, communication and leadership go hand-in-hand.

Who is your favorite political figure? What sort of communicator is/was he or she? Would the core values of our organization — integrity, respect, service, and excellence — describe or fit this public figure’s character?

Consider dropping in on a local #Toastmasters meeting in honor or this holiday for that's #WhereLeadersAreMade, honing their leadership and public speaking skills.

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Beware the hyphenated-Toastmaster. What do I mean by a hyphenated-Toastmaster? Have you heard of members sorting themselves into groups such as …

  • I’m a community-Toastmaster versus a corporate-Toastmaster?

  • I’m an advanced-Toastmaster … Perhaps hinting that timing lights and other rules need not apply.

  • I’m from an on-line club. I’m from a traditional or legacy-club. Etc.

Our global organization reaches out to all members and offers an equal opportunity for all to learn and grow. With this equal opportunity comes challenges which the International Board of Directors may face in the near- to mid-term. For example:

  • How should the dues be set so as to attract and retain the optimum number of members?

  • What accommodations should be made for members who attend their meetings on-line, or in so-called hybrid clubs with some members meeting face-to-face while others teleconference into these meetings?

  • Should there be a policy in place to help club-level officers get their needed training without extensive travel or expense?

It is this candidate’s view that we are all Toastmasters and that policies and protocols must best reflect this principle of fairness and equality. Beware the hyphenated-Toastmaster.

I say, “Bully!” Beware the hyphenated-Toastmaster.

I say, “Bully!” Beware the hyphenated-Toastmaster.